One hundred-twenty high school students left Chicago Saturday on the PUSH for Excellence 11th Annual HBCU Tour. They will spend spring break traveling to more than a dozen historically black colleges and universities to get a sense of what college life is like and where they will feel most comfortable as a student.
"Our passion is to create opportunities for these young people," said Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., founder and president of Rainbow Push Coalition. "We nurture their minds into seeing that there is a world outside of their hometowns." Most of the students are Chicagoland residents but some come from as far as Los Angeles, California.
The tour runs from April 4th to April 11th, 2009 and will make the following stops:
Tour A Morgan State University Howard University North Carolina A&T Bennett College Winston Salem State University Savannah State University Fort Valley State University Clark Atlanta College Morehouse College Spelman College
Tour B Langston University Prairie View A&M University Texas Southern University Southern University Xavier University of Louisiana Jackson State University Tougaloo College
In 2008, PUSH for Excellence raised $457,200 in scholarship funds helping to send approximately 200 students to four-year schools including Morehouse, the University of Southern California and DePaul University.
PUSH for Excellence is committed to exposing underserved young people to the world and opportunities that exist outside their communities. This event is part of a major effort to promote increased minority college attendance through early exposure and preparation.
"The purpose of this tour is to expose our children to great institutions that offer a nurturing, protective and productive environment," said Dr. Bonita Carr, executive director of PUSH for Excellence. "Exposure is the key to making informed, intelligent and meaningful decisions."
While on the tour, students will participate in many workshops focusing on leadership, personal development and academics with the emphasis on college preparation. They will also have the opportunity to visit historical and cultural sites and interact with the students on campus.
According to Gloria Ladson-Billings, author of The Dream Keepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children, African American students are: -
Three times as likely to drop out of school as white children -Twice as likely to be suspended from school -Make up only 17% of the public school population but 41% of the special-education population.
Ladson-Billings adds that African American students attending historically black colleges and universities have significantly higher graduation rates than those attending predominately white institutions.
The ability of the graduates to function successfully both in the workplace and at predominately white graduate and professional schools is not compromised by having attended African American undergraduate schools.
The tour gives students a look at a range of institutions that they might never have considered attending without this opportunity to visit.
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. For more information about the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, please visit www.rainbowpush.org or call (773) 373-3366